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We lucked out when we volunteered for older people's health projects in Cambodia

04 Feb 2014

Darren takes photographs of a projectMy assignment in Battambang, was to complete an internship with HelpAge Cambodia as part of my Master's degree in Public Health from the University of Toronto in Canada and Darren was eager to contribute also.

Darren is an architect and photographer in Canada and hoped there would be some opportunities to use these skills in Battambang. Luckily, Cambodia offered many opportunities and we were able to work together at HelpAge.

We are both very committed to supporting the wellbeing of older people; however in Canada our experience working with older people has been limited to our own family members.

We welcomed the opportunity to volunteer with HelpAge and support their community model of health and wellbeing, led through older people's associations in Cambodia's rural villages. We both feel that we "lucked out" by joining the HelpAge team of dedicated and passionate staff and volunteers.

I worked with the health project team to evaluate health services in five rural villages and provide health resources on non-communicable diseases to community members and local health workers.

Darren taught HelpAge staff photography and photo-editing skills and design. He also spent a few days with staff capturing photos of older people in communities that HelpAge works with.

Outside of work, when we weren't touring around Angkor, we would spend time talking together about what we learned by living in another country, with a different culture to our own country.

One of the most significant insights we gained is the appreciation for a community model of living that reinforces the belief we are all truly responsible for one another and our actions have a direct impact on others all over the globe.

Now we have transitioned back to our lives in Canada.

Darren is working at an architecture firm and I am working with the provincial government. We both view our time volunteering at HelpAge as one of the best experiences of our lives, and are so glad that we got to share the experience together.

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Dawn Cressman
Country: Canada
 

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.